Four tied to SCDOT corruption indicted by state grand jury

COLUMBIA -- Three former S.C. Department of Transportation employees and a contractor were indicted by the state grand jury on corruption allegations involving contract work with the agency, according to the state attorney general’s office.

The former employees were based at the Columbia District 1 SCDOT offices and were indicted last week in three different kickback schemes. The indictments were under seal until Thursday.

Charles W. Shirley, a former fields operations manager of the Intelligent Transportation Systems division, was indicted on six counts including criminal conspiracy and misconduct in office for allegedly scamming more than $360,000 from the SCDOT. The indictment states Shirley conspired with his neighbor Allen Kent Ray to contract with SCDOT for information technology services from March 2010 until July 2015.

Shirley oversaw the contracts awarded to Pine Ridge Specialty Services, LLC, the company the two formed. Secretary of State records show the company registered to Ray at 850 Gary Hallman Circle in Leesville.

The indictment states Shirley would remove large amounts of money from Pine Ridge’s bank account for himself or funnel it through other companies posing as legitimate vendors.

Ray was charged on one count of criminal conspiracy and one count offering anything of value to influence action of a public employee.

Curtis C. Singleton, the former head of DOT’s District 1 signal shop, which maintains and installs traffic signals, was charged with four separate counts stemming from alleged cash bribes and kickbacks he “demanded” from contractors whose work he supervised.

The indictments state Singleton demanded $3,700 in bribes from contractors in Lexington County in exchange for his approval of work done between May 2008 and November 2014. He demanded a contractor sell him a truck for $10,000 below market value in order to keep receiving DOT work and his approval. One contractor was ordered to overcharge for fiber optic cable so Singleton could pocket $2,500, another was charged $2,000 for traffic poles and Singleton charged a subcontractor $4,000 for SCDOT fiber optic cable, the indictment states.

Singleton was charged under two indictments. His second indictment included six counts against him, four of which were for receiving anything of value to influence action of a public employee. The charge carries up to 10 years in prison.

Former DOT inspector Joe Edward Butler was charged with the same four counts as Singleton, three counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent and one count of acceptance of rebates or extra compensation.

The indictment alleges that Butler sold traffic signal equipment to contractors on 14 occasions. On one such time Butler received $4,000 for new traffic controllers and told the contractor they were untraceable since they had not been put in SCDOT’s system.

The indictment states Butler approached contractors in late 2014 to sell two SCDOT-owned traffic signal cabinets for half their value. According to the indictment, contractors would pick up the cabinets from a gas station and hand Butler $7,000 for each.

His pay-to-play scheme netted $28,500.

SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall acknowledged the indictments of the former employees following a “lengthy and thorough investigation.”

“SCDOT has zero tolerance for wrongdoing of any kind and wishes to express its appreciation for the hard work of both the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the SC Attorney General’s Office,” Hall said in a statement.

SCDOT District 1 is based in Columbia and encompasses Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Richland, Sumter counties.

The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorney General S. Creighton Waters and Assistant Attorneys General Brian Petrano and Joel Kozak.

The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.